Workplace Dating: Will it lead to Dating or Unemployment?

| 5 min read
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Despite all the cautionary tales regarding the dangers of office romance, countless employees wind up in relationships with co-workers every year. And as you might expect when two people try to maintain both a business and emotional relationship – while spending virtually every waking hour together and keeping the whole thing a secret – workplace dating often ends in tears.

Poll just about any office, and you’re likely to hear at least one story (if not more) of workplace dating that went awry. What’s worse, the fallout from these failed office romances can be far more brutal than a run-of-the-mill relationship. At least in normal life, if you look at the person you thought you’d marry and suddenly realize that you actually can’t stand the sight of them, you can just break up. But when this person is a work colleague, you may still have to maintain a professional relationship no matter how badly things end. Depending on the circumstances, failing to do so could cost you a raise, a promotion – or even your job.

Of course, warnings about the dangers of workplace dating and office hookups are nothing new. The phrase “don’t dip your pen in the company ink” is a well-worn cliché, and some companies are so concerned about the negative effects of office romances that they expressly prohibit workplace dating. Yet, despite this, co-workers continue to wind up in bed together, restrictions and warnings be damned.

So if workplace dating is such a bad idea, why do employees keep doing it? Is it because the stress of working together creates a unique bond between people? Or that as employees work longer hours, the office has become the only available place to meet people? Maybe the truth is that in spite of conventional wisdom, not all office romances are destined for failure. People who are drawn to the same employer often have common interests and a similar outlook on life. In fact, some of today’s best-known power couples began their relationships while working together. Then again, some notable romance disasters also began with workplace dating, so it’s important know what makes office romances succeed – and what makes them fail.

If you have you got your eye on a co-worker but don’t know whether you should make a move, proceed carefully. Handle your office romance the right way and you might live happily ever after; screw it up and you could wind up looking for a new job. If you’re not sure whether to act on your office crush, try taking a queue from these famous (and infamous) couples for some of the main do’s and don’ts of dating someone in the workplace:

Barack and Michelle Obama
Barack and Michelle Obama met when they both worked at a Chicago law firm, and Michelle was assigned to mentor Barack while he was a summer associate. They married in 1992 and have continued to work together throughout the rise of his political career.

Workplace Dating Advice:
Communicate clearly about how you should act at work. Do you want to be open about your relationship, or keep a professional distance? If one partner feels like sharing with others while the other wants to pretend nothing is happening, this can quickly lead to trouble.

Bill and Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda Gates met at a press event in 1987, and married in 1994. For many years Bill continued to run Microsoft while Melinda headed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, dedicated to global philanthropy. Now, after retiring from Microsoft, Bill and Melinda run the foundation jointly.
Workplace Dating Advice:
Give each other space when you’re in the office. Don’t crowd each other or constantly check up on each other. If you were both independently successful before you began dating, there’s no reason you can’t continue the same dynamic after getting together.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez
Lopez and Affleck’s romance caused such a media frenzy that the couple was referred to as “Bennifer,” and virtually every aspect of their relationship became the subject of intense scrutiny. Having met on the set of the movie Gigli, the film’s failure served as the culmination of the couple’s overexposure, and the two split in 2004.

Workplace Dating Advice:
Hollywood stars may be the only ones who need fear media overexposure, but you should watch out for “overexposure” of your workplace romance, too. If you date a coworker publicly, try not to get so involved in each other while at work that it begins to breed resentment among your colleagues. When it comes to workplace dating, a little attention from your coworkers goes a long way.

Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn
Another Hollywood pairing, Vaughn and Anniston began their relationship during the filming of The Break Up. While the romance sparked plenty of tabloid coverage, it never caused quite the media frenzy of Affleck and Lopez, and the relationship appeared to peter out by 2006.

Workplace Dating Advice:
Your relationship should be a collaborative effort. If one of you is putting more time into the romance than the other, it could be a warning sign that you’re headed for trouble.

Nathan Jeffery


  1. All you have mentioned above are non-nigerian, and in a western world….let’s tall more about ourselves n culture… must everything be about America

    • Who ever told you it’s more western or non Nigerian? Is it only abroad you see colleagues date. Rather than complain, why not ignore if you’ve got no interests in the topic discussed.
      Very nice article. Thanks.

  2. Very Nice Article. It’s would be perfect if real-life instances are from Nigerians/Africans.
    Please can you advise on a workplace romance between staffs from higher/lower cadre i.e Boss/Secretary, Supervisor/Subordinate.
    Hope to hear from you. Cheers!!!

  3. My name is Kingsley Mbonu a Nigeria I am currently undergoing my Master degree in Data science in the USA, I found this question interesting regarding the topic mentioned above can anyone provide my a data set or where I can get this data so that I get more insights on this topic.

    Kingsley Mbonu

  4. Nice article. For real-time Nigerian experience, I’m the perfect example. I dated my boss, we tried keeping it low for 1yr but it wasn’t easy. I had to leave for the relationship to work. Got another job and now we are getting married in few months. The thing is, not all office romance are bad but it requires a lot of work. It can only survive if the 2 people involve want it to.

  5. For me outside Nigeria, all above could be done with the cautions recommended; but in Nigeria people over are not sincere with themselves let alone another person, so I’m of the opinion that Nigerian ladies keep off office romance.

  6. Well written piece….except for the wrong use of the word ‘queue’ instead of cue…(or is autocorrect to blame?)

  7. life is all about time and is also turn by turn.whatever happen accept that fate that is all nature.

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